Saturday, September 17, 2011

BR: Shut Out

by Kody Keplinger

The DUFF was actually one of the best debuts I read last year so Kody Keplinger has been an author I’ve been following for a while (I mean, she’s only like 19 or something!) I couldn’t wait to read her newest novel :)

Summary (goodreads)

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Inspired by Aristophanes' play Lysistrata, critically acclaimed author of The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Kody Keplinger adds her own trademark humor in this fresh take on modern teenage romance, rivalry and sexuality.

My Expectations: high but not extremely high. I wasn’t really sure of the premise but it sounded really interesting
Delivery: I feel like the author has already cemented her own style within the YA genre, as in the addictingly readable contemp novels.
Put-down-ability: when I say compelling and addicting, I mean I can’t put this down. 2/10

My Thoughts

Shut Out has a premise that makes you wonder how Keplinger thinks up some of these stuff (or, maybe it’s just my lack of knowledge—severe lack of knowledge involving all things Shakespeare [EDIT: MY BAD, it's definitely not Shakespeare, I will be blaming the altitude of the flight in which I wrote this review, but honestly, MY BAD. My apologies, and thanks to casey for pointing it out]) but anyways, it’s based on a play I had no idea existed but definitely has themes that relate incredibly well to society today.

I want to start with the stuff that makes the author memorable in a great way—writing style. I feel there’s two types of ‘readability’, one where it’s simple and straight-to-the-point, the other is a complex yet compelling in a way that you don’t realize it’s been 2 hours and you haven’t stopped yet. The prose belongs in the latter and very much like I felt about The DUFF, it was so hard to put down.

And before I move on to anything else, I just want to point out that the friendships in this novel between Lissa and her friends and all the other frenemies/enemies-turned-friends, I felt the vibe of friendship, the silliness and exasperation and loyalty was all defined really well and definitely relatable. Both the good parts and bad parts of friendship was captured and I could definitely believe it. The romance however, was just average for me. I’m writing this review a few weeks after I finished the novel and I can barely remember who was involved, apart from the quarterback and some other really hot guy (too attractive? Maybe. Or maybe I just wanted another Westley…)

The plot is the sticky point for me, but it has a lot to do with personal preference than anything.  Sex is a huge part of the novel both in exploring female empowerment and sexuality, and really, it’s just not something I'm able to realistically identify with. My high school wasn’t abound with everyone running around having sex (which in this book, it felt like that sometimes). I just remember feeling sometimes like “ohkayyy…. Does this really happen?” but again, just based on past precedent for me, I guess.

Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Recommended for: fans of more mature contemporary YA, it doesn’t really have that upper-YA feel to it, but more like a YA book that deals with older themes
Acknowledgements: urm, I don’t remember and I don’t have a copy with me :p

8/10- because it was overall an extremely engaging and enjoyable read (wow, alliterate those ‘e’s, will ya?). I loved being able to be instantly pulled in by the writing style and unique plot. I thought the themes were relevant but sometimes the execution was lacking. It felt like Keplinger had to resort to semi-preaching at times to ‘explain’ or explore the whole battle of the sexes thing. However, at a general level, it was definitely a great book that I’d easily recommend.

source: contest
author blog / twitter / website


  1. I agree, Keplinger has a really distinct style, and I LOVED the way she portrayed female friendship. That was definitely the highlight of the novel for me =) It's actually not based on a Shakespeare play though -- it's an old Greek comedy by Aristophanes. I haven't read that particular play, but I've read some of his others. They did talk about sex a lot, but it's kind of funny because this book is about sex but no one ever actually has it during the book LOL. I think Keplinger did a good job of showing that you don't HAVE to have it. There were several virgins in the group, which I thought showed nice awareness on Kody's part. Can't wait for her next book!

  2. I've just started reading The DUFF, and I love it so far, and I'm totally looking forward to reading SHUT OUT. I didn't know that play existed, either, Audrey O.o I guess Canadians just don't get taught enough of these things?

  3. I really liked The DUFF, too, and I have a copy of Shut Out around somewhere... Good to know that it's still very readable despite its more adult themes. So you liked The DUFF better, overall, eh? OK:).

  4. I've been hesitant to read Keplinger because I keep hearing that she's an author you either love or hate.... and I'm scared to end up in the latter category (and I have a huge TBR that needs to get read *anyway*). Great review though!

  5. hanks for 5 the review maybe i will read it

  6. Great review! I just finish this and agree it that is an addictive read and a lot of fun. Also I really liked Cash but not quite as much as the cheeky Wes :)

  7. Awesome review! I did really like this book, which surprised me, because I wasn't really expecting to, but I think that Keplinger just has a really good, engaging writing style.

    But, for me, she didn't handle the sexuality in this one as well as she did in The Duff, and there were definite points for me that I wish had been different.

  8. Great review Audrey! I wasn't sure of the premise but it sounds really interesting and I'm definitely keen to give it a go. I love a bit of sexual tension ;)

  9. I haven't read this book- but the review is interesting. The high school I went to sounds more like yours- but I guess there are all types out there. From what you wrote, this book has a lot to offer!

    I found you through Book Blogs and signed up to follow you. When you have a chance- please stop by and follow the blog for my middle grade novel that I am hoping to get published.

    Take care-
    Jess- although I may show up as Fairday, the main character from my novel. I can't figure out why that happens and I can't fix it. :)

  10. Shut Out didn't grab me the same way The Duff did. Maybe I was looking for Wesley too. These characters didn't really jump off the page for me.
    I just have to figure Shut Out wasn't the right book for me because I still think Keplinger has an interesting writing style and I'll be checking out her future books.


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